This week, in what I hope will become an annual event on my blog, I am posting on works by authors who died in the holocausts, holocaust memorials and historical works. There have been holocausts as far back as recorded history goes and they are still going on today. I know that many more than Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Much of the trouble in the world today was set in motion by the Holocaust.
Iréne Nemirovsky was born in Kiev, Russia February 11, 1903 into a wealthy Jewish family, her father was a banker for the Czar, and died in Auschwitz Concentration Camp on August 17, 1942. She wrote thirteen exquisite novels, her most famous work is her Suite Francis, and published thirty short stories. I have read nine of her novels and ten of her short stories. After her first novel, David Golder, published in 1926 she wrote almost a novel a year. With her murder the Nazis, the French were far from blameless concerning the fate of their Jews, deprived the world of upwards of thirty novels. To me the literary impact of the Holocaust is personified in Iréne Nemirovsky. I do not forgive or forget. My only way of expressing my feelings is to post on the latest of her works I have read, All Our Worldy Goods, published posthumously in 1947.
All Our Worldly Goods is largely set in a small town in rural France, taking place in the years 1910 to 1940. It centers on two families, bound together by a marriage neither side wanted. It begins showing us the impact of World War One on the residents of the town. It ends with the devastation of the town by German bombing. We see how innocent lives are devastated by the war. Nemirovsky lets us feel the love of the French for their land, they are horrified by gas warfare in WW I that killed even their trees. We are along when people leave Paris for fear of the approaching Germans in World War Two. Nemirovsky is a master at the multifarious class distinctions that divide people and she shows how the war changed these distinctions. In 1940 in France many, maybe most residents, thought the Germans would win the war. Many were quick to turn on French Jews, jealous of their preceived wealth. Many also did what they could to help their fellow citizens.
If you read a bit about Nemirovsky you will find suggestions that she was herself anti semetic. I have seen this in top end journals. It is based largely on the lead character in David Golder and it shows a very shallow understanding of her work and life.
Where Némirovsky died.